^^^I'S. CO MP. ZOOL LfPRARY B R A V I WW A iiseiim of Comparative Zoology us ISSN 000(1-'.)(i'.)S Cambridge, Mass. September 20, 1973 Number 406 TWO NEW LYGOSOXIINE SKINKS FROM NEW GUINEA WITH COMMENTS ON THE LOSS OF THE EXTERNAL EAR IN LYGOSOMINES AND OBSERVATIONS ON PREVIOUSLY DESCRIBED SPECIES Allen E. Greer, Jr. AiiSTKAcr. Two new species of the jasciatus species group of Spheno-murplnis are desciibcd from New Cuiiica: S. anotus is unique among its relati\es in lacking an external ear opening and i. inicrutympanus can be disiinguislietl 1)\ tlie greatly reduced size of its tvnipanuni. The earless l)gosomines are reviewed and it is noted that, while the loss of the external ear opening is apparently a prerequisite for a burrowing way of life, ii is inicertain whether the loss of the external ear in burrowcrs is a piimary adaptation to burrowing or whether it is a preadaptation inherited fioui a nonburrowing ancestor. Certain aspects of the morphology of the previously described but poorly known sjjecies Splicuoinorplius forbcsi, S. olii^olcpis and i'. schuUzei are discussed antl photographs of type specimens are provided. In 1964 members of the Se\enth Archbold Expedition col-lected two small scincid lizards on the Huon Peninsula which differed from all other Icnown skinks in New Guinea in having a scaly auricular depression instead of the more external ear opening. These were thus the first "'earless" skinks to come out of New Guinea. The specimens were sent to Dr. Richard Zweifel at the American Museum of Natural History, but he was unable to identify them and he put them aside in the iiope that more specimens would be forthcoming. Five years later two more very similar skinks were collected by Angus F. Hutton at Garaina and gi\en to Dr. Zweifel during his 1 9(59 trip to New Guinea. Dr. Zweifel recognized the great similarity between these two specimens and the Huon Peninsula specimens but, still being unable to identify them, he kindly turned them o\'er to me for further study.